WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2011

Behaviour: All Other Animals

Bence Máté, Hungary

Ant rider

The lives of most worker leaf-cutter ants - all of them females - are spent carrying bits of leaves back to their nest, to be used as compost to grow fungus for food. The result is a constant trail of ants to and from the nest. To photograph antwork up close, Bence chose to work at night in the Costa Rican rainforest, which is when the ants are most busy. To get an ant's-eye view, he lay belly-down, with two flashes lighting the branch 'road' being used by the workers and two flashes behind to backlight the ants. Here one of the smaller ants, referred to as a minor, is hitching a lift. But it has a job to do, too. Parasitic flies patrol the workers' lines, trying to lay their eggs on the ants, and it is the minor's job to protect her larger sister against the danger.

Technical specification

Nikon D300 + 28-105mm lens; 1/250 sec at f16; ISO 200; four linked SB-800 flashes; Gizo tripod.

Laguna Del Lagarto Lodge, Boca Tapada, Cost Rica: latitude 10.7028, longitude -84.1199 Laguna Del Lagarto Lodge, Boca Tapada, Cost Rica: latitude 10.7028, longitude -84.1199

Laguna Del Lagarto Lodge, Boca Tapada, Cost Rica

Intellectual property rights to all WPY images are retained by the photographers. Reproduction without prior written consent constitutes an actionable infringement. For usage enquiries please contact us.

Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Bence Máté, Hungary

Bence grew up in Hungary in one Europe’s most significant bird migratory and nesting areas. He took up photography when he was 13, and soon his hobby became an obsession. He has been a professional bird photographer since 2004, making a living out of wildlife photography tourism. He was won many awards for his innovative images, often using self-built equipment and hides.

  • Lunge feeding
  • The great gape
  • Pelican perspective
  • Flight of the hoopoe
  • Brilliant show
  • Great catch
  • The lost supper
  • Workers' reflections
  • Fire on the Pantanal
  • King of the vultures
  • Leg-work
  • Attention time
  • A marvel of ants
  • Caiman's little mouthful
  • Herons in time and space
  • Portrait of a pelican
  • The bird rack
  • Hanger-trap